Hannah's Dress tells the dizzying story of Berlin's modern history. Curious to learn more about the city she has lived in for over twenty years, journalist Pascale Hugues investigates the lives of the men, women and children who have occupied her ordinary street during the course of the last century. We see the street being built in 1904 and the arrival of the first familiHannah's Dress tells the dizzying story of Berlin's modern history. Curious to learn more about the city she has lived in for over twenty years, journalist Pascale Hugues investigates the lives of the men, women and children who have occupied her ordinary street during the course of the last century. We see the street being built in 1904 and the arrival of the first families of businessmen, lawyers and bankers. We feel the humiliation of defeat in 1918, the effects of economic crisis, and the rise of Hitler's Nazi party. We tremble alongside the Jewish families, whose experience is so movingly captured in the story of two friends, Hannah and Susanne. When only Hannah is able to escape the horrors of deportation, the dress made for her by Susanne becomes a powerful reminder of all that was lost. In 1945 the street is all but destroyed; the handful of residents left want to forget the past altogether and start afresh. When the Berlin Wall goes up, the street becomes part of West Berlin and assumes a rather suburban identity, a home for all kinds of petite bourgeoisie, insulated from the radical spirit of 1968. However, this quickly changes in the 1970s with the arrival of its most famous resident, superstar David Bowie. Today, the street is as tranquil and prosperous as in the early days, belying a century of eventful, tumultuous history. This engrossing account of a single street, awarded the prestigious 2014 European Book Prize, sheds new light on the complex history not only of Berlin but of an entire continent across the twentieth century....
|Title||:||Hannah's Dress: Berlin 1904 - 2014|
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Number of Pages||:||250 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Hannah's Dress: Berlin 1904 - 2014 Reviews
Hugues uses contemporary methodologies of oral and micro-history to think about the history of C20th Germany via a single small street in Berlin. Her focus is narrow and deep but, almost inevitably, becomes unbalanced with most of the material coming from the Nazi era. On this short street alone 106 Jews were deported and that number, far more manageable in human terms than the 11 million, drives home its point with power. One of these was Lilli Ernsthaft, a Jewish woman who survived and returned to the street after the war raising important issues about restoration, reparations and how to move forward with a respect for the past. All of this is certainly interesting but it does tend to make the book largely about the German-Jewish experience during WW2. Given the title of the book I was expecting more about the earlier part of the C20th, the impact of the First World War, and perhaps more about post-war Berlin. Hugues' street was in the American sector of the divided Berlin but we hear little about life in the divided city. Towards the end Hugues is ecstatic to hear that David Bowie lived in a neighbouring apartment during the 1970s and, again, I would have liked to have heard more about Berlin's more recent past.The narrative can feel a bit muddled at times though Hugues' writing is personable and involving: 3.5 stars for an unbalanced and uneven look at a fascinating city.Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley
I've learned over the years to tell a story in the small details. The bouquet of plucked dandelions scattered around the place where a child was kidnapped, is a lot more affecting than the screaming and crying and screech of tires. That's what Hughes is doing in this book, she's telling her story in the details, in vignettes about the lives of the people who essentially created the culture of the street she lives on, both while they lived there and afterward. And in doing this, she tells the story of the Holocaust and how it touched Berliners. She does tell more contemporary history, but the stories of the Jewish families who were among the first to make their homes in this particular street takes up most of her narrative.So I don't really understand why this book didn't touch me. It's well written, the subject matter is one of my most enduring interests, and yet, I felt removed from it as a reader. Possibly it's Hughes' writing style that never quite meshes with the way I think. Or possibly I sense that there was a point for which she was reaching, but which she never quite grasps. It never felt pulled together for me. And that's a shame because it's clearly a labor of love for Hughes.Nevertheless I give her points for her scholarship, her pursuit of the details of people's lives. I wish I'd found it more engaging.